by Moira Cullings
FRANKFORT — Growing up in the country in a tight-knit family made a deep impact on Father Daniel Schmitz’s vocation — and his avocations as well.
He has, for example, an intense passion for basketball.
“I started playing as soon as I could walk,” he said.
“A basketball is one of the first Christmas presents we would get as boys growing up,” he added. “My dad’s a huge basketball fan.”
As the second oldest of four boys, Father Schmitz was constantly teaming up with his younger brothers in an effort to beat the oldest.
“He’s five years older than me, so, when I was little, it wasn’t a contest. But eventually, with two-on-one we could beat him.
“And now we’re all grown men — and it’s a free-for-all.”
Father Schmitz is pastor of Annunciation Parish in Frankfort, St. Monica-St. Elizabeth Parish in Blue Rapids and St. Columbkille Parish in Blaine.
Although busy running all three parishes, Father Schmitz’s competitiveness as a child has carried over into adulthood, and he still grabs every chance he has at a real game.
The Runnin’ Revs games, which pit priests and seminarians against eighth-grade and high school teams, have been a great way for Father Schmitz to hone his skills and liberate his competitive side.
“The most recent one at Hayden was actually a competitive game. The refs were more or less actually calling a fair game instead of letting us win pretty easily,” he said.
After a few missed calls from the referees, Father Schmitz forgot where he was and screamed, “Ref, you gotta call that!”
“Then I realized I needed to sit down for a bit and cool off,” he said.
One of Father Schmitz’s fondest memories is winning the state championship during his years at Jackson Heights High School in Holton.
“Maybe even more so than that is the day in [the] seminary [when]I realized I could get beat and lose a game and that was OK,” he said.
“It took me a long time to get to that point, but that was a very good day on the court,” he continued.
Home improvement projects are another part of Father Schmitz’s upbringing that have remained close to him during his first few years as a priest.
“We grew up with a project every summer when my dad was off from teaching,” he said. “And all his brothers would come down and help work on it.
“Now, all my brothers and my brother-in-law will do the same.”
Not to mention that life as pastor of three rural parishes has given Father Schmitz multiple opportunities to put his handyman skills to use.
“I’m not sure if it’s the fewer resources as much as the age of structures. But things need to get replaced,” he said.
“I found out especially between three parishes and 15 buildings, something always needed to be worked on and still does,” he added.
Right now, Father Schmitz is eager to play a part in a few major projects going on within the parishes, one of which is a total revamp of St. Columbkille.
“It is really exciting to be a part of it,” he said. “I’ve never redone a church before.”
But small household projects, though not as complex, are satisfying in their own way, especially when it comes to fixing something in his own house.
“I can take as much time on them as I want,” he said. “Redo them if I need to.
“It’s a cheap way to pass the time.”